There was a time in my marriage when, in amongst the normal and the good, a space had started to open up.  A distance was widening between us.My plan was to ignore it. If I busied myself with the day to day I assumed (I hoped) we would one day naturally regain our previous ease, our relaxed intimacy.While I waited, I held Matt at arms length.To protect my heart, I hid how I was feeling.Matt tried to talk to me about how things were, but I refused to acknowledge it. I had neither the time nor energy nor courage to...

It is January in the north of England and my garden looks as you would expect; damp, leaf strewn, drained of colour: a mess.There is not much to be seen, but there is work to do.I plan to cut back some shrubs that have needed a hard prune since we moved in four years ago. They are overgrown and block light from the house.As I begin to work, my neighbour walks past on his way back from his allotment. He calls over,“Take it right to the floor, you will only get leaf this year, but the flowers will be back...

Last week I took the kids to the park with a friend. Two adults, six children and a dog. Pretty ordinary.I arrived a little early. The kids raced ahead of me to the swings and I walked through the damp leaves following them up the path.Rewind thirteen months and I remember making this same journey. It was just before Christmas and we were desperate to find something to do on a grey day, some way to get the kids out of the house, even if just for an hour. We were tired at the end of the long term and...

Learning to love someone is like poetry.I don't mean that it is beautiful and full of romantic imagery.I mean that it is hard.Poetry is hard.When I was 17 I went on a school trip to a day of talks about literature in the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. There were many speakers. They talked about their favourite texts, or about their own work.Some of it was very boring.But two of the talks have stayed with me, and I remember them all these (nearly 20) years later.Germaine Greer talked about her favourite Shakespearean sonnet and Simon Armitage unpicked his poem, Kid.I happened...